Interesting Comparison …

In case you didn’t see this recently in the Des Moines Register, here is an article I thought was very interesting.  There is MUCH rhetoric about schools and what they are and aren’t doing compared to previous years (decades would be more apropos).  I haven’t checked the data – but one would think the Register did its due diligence before publishing – and the sources are all solid (see end of article).

For those of us in the schools, perhaps the most interesting data points are those dealing with the changing demographics in Iowa over the past 20 years, e.g., minority population, non-English speaking students, and increase of students on free/reduced lunch.  These changes are challenging – but challenges are really opportunities in waiting.

Interesting data … “numbers are numbers” so if you get a chance, read and interpret for yourselves …


Iowa schools: Are they better or worse off?

How do Iowa students today compare with those 20 years ago?

The Des Moines Register took a look, comparing school funding, academics and student demographics.


Fourth-grade reading 

  • 1992: Fourth in nation
  • 2013: Eighth in nation**

Fourth-grade math

  • 1992: Second in nation
  • 2013: Fifth in nation

Eighth-grade math

  • 1996: First in nation
  • 2013: 10th in nation

Graduates pursuing post-secondary education or training

  • 1996: 72 percent
  • 2014: 81 percent

Dropouts in grades 7-12

  • 1996-07: 2 percent
  • 2012-13: 1.9 percent


Public school enrollment

  • 1993-94: 497,000 students (non-public enrollment, 45,000 students)
  • 2013-14: 478,000 students (non-public enrollment, 32,000 students)

Minority public school students

  • 1997-98: 8.2 percent of students (Non-public schools, 4 percent)
  • 2013-14: 20 percent of students (Non-public schools, 13 percent)

Students learning English in public schools

  • 1993-94: 3,785, or 0.8 percent, of students
  • 2014-15: 26,990, or 5.3 percent, of students

Students receiving free or reduced lunch, an indicator of poverty, in public schools

  • 1993: 120,847, or 25.4 percent
  • 2014-15: 195,817, or 41 percent

School district size

  • 1997-98: 11 percent of students attended districts with fewer than 600 students; 54 percent attended districts with fewer than 2,500 students
  • 2013-14: 12 percent of students attended districts with fewer than 600 students; 49 percent attended districts with fewer than 2,500 students


Iowa public school appropriations

  • 1993-94:  $1.3 billion of state aid to school districts ($2.2 billion in today’s dollars*)
  • 2013-14:  $2.7 billion

Portion of the state’s general fund

  • 1993-94: 37.8 percent
  • 2013-14: 41.9 percent

Per-pupil state public school cost

  • 1994: $3,406 per student ($5,617 per student in today’s dollars)
  • 2015-16: $6,446 per student

Per-pupil expenses

  • 1993: $5,070 per student ($8,361 per student in today’s dollars)
  • 2013: $10,313 per student

Average teacher salary

  • 1993: $30,760, 32nd in nation ($50,730 in today’s dollars)
  • 2013:  $52,032, 25th in nation

DATABASE: Iowa school funding by district 

*Inflation adjustments using the Consumer Price Index.

**Rankings include multiple tied scores

Sources: Iowa Department of Education compiled statistics; The Des Moines Register archives; U.S. Census Bureau; NAEP state average scale scores by grade and subject, rankings have multiple tied scores; Condition of Education reports from the Iowa Department of Education

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